John Canemaker’s approach to animation is using a great degree of stylization, imagination, and fabrication, and emphasizing the emotional and expressive aspect of his narrative. By using symbols and visual representations for abstract ideas, such as the emotional conditions or states of mind, John Canemaker constructs his own style to reach a deeper truth than what may be possible with live action.
John Canemaker alters between a literal image/sound relationship and a metaphorical one. While he often uses a literal representation in a symbolic way and as well as to personify people and characters, the expressiveness of his drawings, such as the sensibility of lines, forms, and colors, is used as well to convey a sense of mood and dramatic tension in his animations. Furthermore, John Canemaker uses a variety of medium/materials for his animations, such as water colors, pastels, ink, and combines them all in the same movie. This creates a sense of a richer context and a lively and dynamic setting and action in the movie.
In “The Moon and The Son”, John Canemaker is using a documentary/interview narrative style to tell the story of the frustrated relationship that he had with his father. John constructs an imaginary conversation between him and the father, a conversation that reveals all the truth and secrets that his father kept hidden, and which led to a great degree of anger, shame, and frustration in John Canemaker’s life. The movie takes on an aggressive investigative approach to emphasis the urgent need of the son to express his rage towards his father, something that might not have been possible to do in real life when the father was alive. The use of expressive animation style, stylization, and abstraction, allows John Canemaker to achieve this urgency and passion, and to deliver an intense and unique personal story as he fuses imagination with actual truths.